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CAB 06-23-2008 10:56 AM

No Drive?!
My dog, from purely showlines, is a real hassle to train because he loses interest in the toy after a few minutes. I then have to drag it around the ground to get his attention again but then loses interest once we start the heeling. I've been playing with him for months now but he can't stay focused on the toy. When we train at the club I generally keep the toy in my pocket because he's not at all interested in it and when he is it's short lived.

Any advice on what I should do?

dd 06-23-2008 11:01 AM

Re: No Drive?!
Try food. Use special treats just for your training sessions - the stinkier the better.

Chris Wild 06-23-2008 11:06 AM

Re: No Drive?!
All you can do is bring out every ounce of drive the dog possesses, but that will still be limited by his genetics. You can't put drive into a dog that doesn't have it naturally.

Keep sessions short and sweet. Stop before the dog loses interest. For some dogs, this may mean 2 minutes is the most you can get. But quitting before their drive and interest wanes, while they still want more, helps bring out more drive through frustration for future sessions.

Back-tying a dog and teasing him, giving him the bite on the toy only when he's really in drive for it, helps teach him to maximize his drive. Many dogs work better to learn to work in drive when the handler uses a dog "fishing pole" rather than holding the toy in hand. This allows for quicker and more jerky movements of the prey object, which illicits more drive, and also keeps the play more away from the handler so there is less danger of the dog being intimidated by the handler looming over him or feeling inhibited about trying to take the toy from the handler.

You also have to go with what is a higher motivator for the dog. For some dogs this may be a tug, for others a rag, for others a leash, for others a ball. Try different things to find what he prefers and is more willing to work for. While obedience for a toy is preferrable in many ways, you have to work with what the dog brings to the table. If he doesn't have the drive for a toy, switching to food or praise as a motivator/reward may make for better training.

CAB 06-23-2008 11:33 AM

Re: No Drive?!
Thanks guys. I think a reason might be that there is too much control at our club. The TD is warped in his opinions. He doesn't believe in a prong, only a choker. When we do the send out we make the dogs down, walk out and put the toy down, walk back and get the dog to sit then send them out and down them just before the toy. IMO this is far to much of a drive killer for low drive beginner dogs?

I'm currently using a kong so maybe switching to a ball or food will make a difference. Is it possible to make a tug/rag easily?

After about 2 hours of training he has no interest in the toy at all. The one breeder does use the fishing pole but as soon as he puts it away the dog's drive dives.

dd 06-23-2008 11:43 AM

Re: No Drive?!
What about a squeaker toy?

In my opinion 2 hours of training is much too long in any case. The only sessions I have been to that are that long and that succeed have lots of play breaks for the dogs in between the training portions. I'm not surprised your dog is discouraged - I would be too.

We were going to a club that had forceful training sessions, and we ALL hated going. So we quit - and went to a place that made training FUN. The dog looked forward to it and so did we. If the training is a chore, in my opinion it will not succeed.

I have been told that training attention span for a normal dog is 15 minutes.

Chris Wild 06-23-2008 11:52 AM

Re: No Drive?!

Originally Posted By: Craig88
After about 2 hours of training he has no interest in the toy at all.
2 hours of actual training? Or 2 hours at the club training sessions, but during which he only gets out for a few minutes at a time? Which is it?

I hope you mean the later, because 2 hours straight of training is insane. A dog isn't going to maintain drive or attention for that long. Good training is about quality of the time spent, not quantity of time just drilling exercise after exercise. That will bore even the most drivey dog to tears. 10-20 minutes at one time is plenty. With a lower drive dog, or younger dog, sessions must be kept much shorter than that.

BlackGSD 06-23-2008 12:12 PM

Re: No Drive?!
Just wanted to add that since you are using a Kong and he looses interest, I would try a ball or tug like was already said. I have had several dogs since Kongs were invented and NONE of them have liked Kongs but would play with /work for something else.

CAB 06-23-2008 01:17 PM

Re: No Drive?!
There is usually about 15 mins of socialisation( working around in a circle and then all coming in close then backing out etc) then we split off into the actual training. There is mainly heeling, down/sit stays, fetching etc. Every so often we reward the dog with the treat, although he's not too interested and generally gives a weak bite. After this session of roughly 30-40 mins we do the IPO work with heel patterns and the down/sit in motion. Then do some send outs and more rewarding only once the dog downs. I really think I should forget about all this drive killing obedience we do in the send outs such as downing when he finally gets to his toy.

After this we then do the bite work which is usually no more than 5 mins. It starts at 8 and the training finishes at about 10. Then the bite work is done sometime after this depending on where my name is on the list. He's obedient most of the time, as he would be on a long walk, but there is no focus and attention.

I will go out and buy a rubber ball on rope tomorrow. Is a rag just a piece of material or is there something special about it?

Chris Wild 06-23-2008 01:29 PM

Re: No Drive?!
2 red flags for me when you describe your general training session.

First, that is WAY too long.
Second, if you always follow the same pattern of exercises with the dog, that is WAY too predictable for the dog and thus, boring.

Dogs thrive on short, energetic sessions and on variety. Doing the same thing time and time again will sap a dog's energy and enthusiasm because it's too predictable. Training sessions should be much shorter, and things need to be mixed up in order to keep the dog interested.

For obedience, we never work our dogs more than 10-20 minutes at a time, and we never structure sessions the same way from one to the next. One session we work on heeling and out of motions, the next session retrieves and send outs, next session recalls and retrieves, etc... Mix it up for variety. Don't try to train all components of all exercises all the time.

Chris Wild 06-23-2008 01:31 PM

Re: No Drive?!

Originally Posted By: Craig88Every so often we reward the dog with the treat, although he's not too interested and generally gives a weak bite.
I must not be understanding something here... what does a treat (food) have to do with biting something?


Originally Posted By: Craig88 Is a rag just a piece of material or is there something special about it?
Just a rag... can be an old towel, torn off piece of a pair of blue jeans, piece of a burlap sack... doesn't matter.

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